Plantain chips, also known as tostones, are a popular snack made from green plantains that are sliced, smashed flat, fried and salted. Goya Foods is one of the largest producers of plantain chips and sells them under their Goya brand. But are Goya plantain chips actually a healthy snack option? Here is a detailed look at the nutrition facts, ingredients and health effects of Goya plantain chips.
Nutrition Facts of Goya Plantain Chips
Below is the nutrition information for a 1 ounce (28g) serving of original Goya plantain chips according to the product packaging:
Total Fat: 8g (12% DV)
– Saturated Fat: 2.5g (13% DV)
Sodium: 230mg (10% DV)
Total Carbohydrate: 20g (7% DV)
– Dietary Fiber: 2g (8% DV)
– Total Sugars: 1g
Goya plantain chips are relatively high in calories and fat for their small serving size. The sodium content is also quite high, providing 10% of the daily recommended limit in just 1 ounce.
On the positive side, plantain chips supply a decent amount of fiber and a minimal amount of natural sugars. They also contain small amounts of potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium and iron.
Overall, the nutrition profile of Goya plantain chips is comparable to regular potato chips. While plantains supply more fiber, potato chips tend to be lower in calories and sodium in an equivalent serving size.
Ingredients in Goya Plantain Chips
According to the product label, Goya plantain chips contain just two ingredients:
– Vegetable Oil (Sunflower, Corn, Canola, or Palm Olein Oil)
The use of plantains as the main ingredient is beneficial, as plantains are a nutritious starchy fruit that contains fiber, potassium, vitamins and minerals.
However, the vegetable oil used for frying can be unhealthy depending on the type. Palm oil is high in saturated fat and controversial for sustainability reasons. Canola oil contains beneficial fats but is often genetically modified. Corn oil is high in omega-6 fatty acids which can promote inflammation when consumed in excess.
Overall, it’s good that Goya uses simple recognizable ingredients in their plantain chips without any added flavors, preservatives or artificial colors. But the type of frying oil is an important consideration.
Are Goya Plantain Chips Fried or Baked?
Goya plantain chips are fried in vegetable oil, not baked. Deep frying causes the chips to absorb a significant amount of oil, increasing their fat and calorie content.
Most nutrition experts recommend baked plantain chips as a healthier alternative to enjoy the flavor and crunch without all the added oil and fat that comes with frying.
However, the texture and taste is noticeably different between fried and baked plantain chips. Goya has chosen to create their popular plantain chips using traditional frying methods.
Glycemic Index and Load of Plantain Chips
The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly foods raise blood sugar levels. Low GI foods (55 or less) are digested slower, causing a gradual rise in blood sugar. High GI foods (70 or more) are broken down quickly and lead to a rapid spike in blood glucose.
Plantains have a low to moderate glycemic index of about 55 or less. However, when plantains are processed into chips and fried in oil, the GI increases.
The glycemic load (GL) takes into account the GI as well as the carbohydrate content in a typical serving. Plantain chips have a moderate GL around 13-18 for a 1 ounce serving.
This means plantain chips will have a moderate effect on blood sugar levels. They are not as low glycemic as intact plantains but are still a better choice than fried potato chips which have a very high GL.
Health Benefits of Goya Plantain Chips
Here are some of the potential health benefits that may be associated with Goya plantain chips in moderation:
– Fiber – Plantains are a good source of fiber. A serving of plantain chips provides 8% of the daily value for fiber, which promotes digestive health.
– Potassium – Plantains are high in potassium, an important electrolyte and mineral. Plantain chips can help increase potassium intake to support heart health and muscle function.
– Vitamin A – Yellow plantains contain significant amounts of pro-vitamin A carotenoids which act as antioxidants and support eye health.
– Iron – Plantains provide a small amount of iron in the form of ferulic acid. Iron assists with oxygen transport in the blood.
– Magnesium – Plantains contain magnesium to help regulate blood pressure, blood sugar and nerve function.
– Gluten-Free – Plantain chips are naturally gluten-free, making them suitable for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.
Downsides and Health Risks
There are also some potential downsides and health risks to consider with Goya plantain chips:
– High in fat and calories – The frying process adds a lot of fat and nearly doubles the calories compared to a fresh plantain. This can promote weight gain if consumed in excess.
– High sodium – The sodium content in plantain chips is relatively high at 10% DV per serving. This may raise blood pressure in salt-sensitive individuals.
– Acrylamide – Frying starchy foods at high heat can produce acrylamide, a potentially carcinogenic compound. However, plantains form less acrylamide than potatoes when fried.
– Oxidized fats – Frying oil degrades over time leading to the formation of aldehydes and lipid peroxides, compounds linked to inflammation and oxidative stress.
– Palm oil concerns – Some brands use palm oil which is associated with deforestation, habitat destruction and human rights violations.
– Fried food risks – Regularly consuming fried foods may be linked to weight gain, heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers according to some studies.
Are Goya Plantain Chips Vegetarian/Vegan?
Goya plantain chips are vegetarian but not vegan.
Plantain chips only contain plantains and vegetable oil. There are no animal-derived ingredients like meat, dairy or egg.
However, the use of oil makes them unsuitable for vegans. The vegetable oils that Goya uses for frying their plantain chips come from plants, not animals. But they are still produced using non-vegan methods. Most vegetable oils are refined using bleaching agents and deodorization processes that incorporate animal bones, flesh and fat.
So in summary:
– Goya plantain chips are vegetarian-friendly.
– They are not considered vegan due to the processing methods for the oils.
Those following vegetarian or vegan diets need to be aware of this when purchasing Goya plantain chips. Checking labels for vegan certifications like the Vegan Action logo can help identify truly vegan snack options that use plant-based oils.
Comparison to Regular Potato Chips
How do Goya plantain chips stack up against regular potato chips in terms of nutrition, ingredients and health impact? Here is a detailed comparison:
– Calories – Plantain chips 150 calories per serving vs. potato chips around 150 calories. Similar calorie count.
– Fat – Plantain chips 8g fat vs. potato chips 10-11g. Slightly less fat in plantain chips.
– Sodium – Plantain chips 230mg vs. potato chips 120-180mg. More sodium in plantain chips.
– Fiber – Plantain chips 2g fiber vs. potato chips 1-2g. More fiber in plantain chips.
– Potassium – Plantains are higher in potassium than white potatoes.
– Vitamins – Plantains contain more vitamin A, vitamin C and folate. Potatoes higher in B vitamins.
– Plantain chips contain only plantains and oil.
– Potato chips often have added flavors, preservatives, colors.
– Both contain starchy vegetable and added frying oil.
– The glycemic index and load is moderately lower in plantain chips.
– Both are high calorie and high fat due to frying.
– The acrylamide formed during frying may be lower in plantains than potatoes.
– Excess intake of either can promote weight gain.
– Plantain chips may have slightly more benefits from fiber, antioxidants and minerals.
Overall, plantain chips are quite comparable to potato chips in nutritional value and health impact. They are relatively equivalent as an occasional fried snack food best enjoyed in moderation as part of an otherwise healthy diet.
How to Make Healthier Plantain Chips
You can make plantain chips more nutritious and lower in fat by baking them instead of frying.
Here are some healthy tips for homemade baked plantain chips:
– Use slightly underripe plantains for best texture.
– Slice plantains very thin, about 1/8 inch thick.
– Toss slices in a small amount of olive oil or avocado oil to lightly coat.
– Season as desired with salt, spices, lime juice or chili powder.
– Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet.
– Bake at 375°F for 15-20 minutes until crispy and browned.
– Cool completely and store in an airtight container.
Baked plantain chips will be lower in fat and calories than fried chips. Be sure not to overload on seasonings high in sodium for best nutritional benefits. Enjoy homemade baked plantains as a healthy alternative to packaged varieties like Goya.
Top 5 Healthier Snack Alternatives to Goya Plantain Chips
If seeking a more nutritious snack than Goya’s fried plantain chips, here are 5 healthier recommended alternatives:
1. Baked Plantain Chips – Get the crunch without the excess oil by baking plantain slices until crispy.
2. Edamame – Boiled or dry roasted edamame beans are filling, satisfying and packed with protein.
3. Nuts – Almonds, walnuts and pistachios contain healthy fats, fiber, and nutrients. Go for the dry roasted or raw options.
4. Popcorn – Air popped popcorn is naturally low calorie. Avoid pre-packaged varieties high in fat, salt and artificial flavors.
5. Vegetables and Hummus – Carrots, celery, bell peppers, cucumbers, and broccoli with hummus provide filling fiber, vitamins and minerals.
When you’re craving something crunchy and salty, reach for a healthier snack like the options above rather than fried plantain chips. Your body will thank you.
The Bottom Line
Goya plantain chips can be enjoyed occasionally as part of a healthy diet. In moderation, they provide some fiber, nutrients, and satisfaction from their crunchy, salty flavor. However, it’s best to limit intake due to their high amounts of sodium, fat, and calories from frying.
Baked plantain chips are lower in fat and make an excellent alternative. For even more benefits, choose snacks like edamame, nuts, popcorn and fresh vegetables with hummus over fried plantain chips.
Overall, Goya plantain chips are a decent option for an occasional indulgence, but they shouldn’t be a daily habit due to their high sodium and fatty acid content from frying. Eating real minimally processed plant foods is ideal, but plantain chips can be included on occasion without great concern. Just be mindful of portions to keep calories under control.